Smart meters: global news roundup

Smart meters make the news in California, Spain, GB and Australia this week.
Smart meters make the news in California, Spain, Great Britain and Australia this week.

In Long Beach, California, officials are using smart water meters as part of their efforts to manage the current water crisis.

According to Digital Trends magazine, a 200 smart meter pilot, which started in March has already helped a local resident save almost 98% on her water bill when it was discovered she has a leak under the foundation of her home.

Water usage information can be provided in intervals of as little as 1 minute and the technology is able to register flow of as little as 0.2 gallons. Web-based analytics provide customers with the necessary information to monitor their usage.

In addition to helping users monitor their water usage, the smart meter technology is helping city officials identify which customers are disobeying watering restrictions (current restrictions allow no more than 10 minutes per week for watering lawns).

According to “Smart-water-meter technologies should ultimately be paired with smart irrigation control that uses sensors to know when to water, for example, as well as drip irrigation and xeriscaping with drought-tolerant plants. They’d need wireless connections and the proper communications protocols, but it could be done. Someone somewhere must be working on an app.”

Spain embraces smart meters

In Spain, utility company Iberdrola has announced that it will install more than 3 million smart meters across 10 regions. Supplied by €325 million from the European Investment Bank (EIB) the meters will be installed in (among others) Madrid, Valencia, Pais Vasco and Navarra.

According to Román Escolano, EIB Vice President: “The reform of the electricity network will help reduce waste while the replacement of smart meters will help householders use electricity efficiently.”

GB smart meter uncertainty continues

In other smart meter news, the Telegraph reported: “millions of smart meter customers are effectively trapped with their energy supplier unless they give up the new technology.”

This, of course, refers to the fact that while 1.5 million smart meters have been installed across the UK, suppliers are not obliged to ensure that the meters are interoperable, meaning that customers who switch suppliers, could be left with a meter that is effectively an expensive wall decoration.

The Telegraph went on to say that the problem would be solved when the centralized communications network, run by the Data and Communications Company (DCC) became available in April 2016. However, the Telegraph continued: “fresh delays are expected in the software delivery, which has already been pushed back by one year due to “technical issues”.”

The Department of Energy and Climate Change has apparently confirmed that another six-month delay is possible.

Australian smart meter opportunities abound

From Australia, the ‘Power of Choice’ initiative will open a new world of high-tech home energy control for consumers.

According to Adrian Clark, head of smart metering business Landis+Gyr in Australia and New Zealand, a ruling by the Australian Energy Market Commission on 1 July will crucially determine how the market will operate in the future.

The plan calls for a market-led rollout of smart meters and other smart consumer services. The emphasis of the planned programme will put more emphasis on the customer.

According to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald, “under the AEMC’s draft ruling on the new metering regulations … retailers would need to appoint a “metering co-ordinator” to provide meters to their customers. Such a system would appear to open up opportunities for metering suppliers in this role, or as a technology partner should a retailer decide to go into metering services itself, as AGL Energy has proposed, for example.”